Welcome back to Front and Center: a week-long series dedicated to highlighting excellent Front of House staff. This entry is by Ashli Michelle of Almost Veggie Houston, which takes a mostly pescetarian look at a meat-obsessed town. As Teresa Byrne-Dodge did on Tuesday, Ashli relates her experiences at Mockingbird Bistro.
As a food writer, spending money is an investment when eating in a restaurant. It's almost painful returning to a place having already been written about. While moving on is a must, Mockingbird Bistro's employee is worth becoming a regular.
René and I first met two years ago during Sunday brunch. After taking a seat at the bar, I began to describe my impression of this place as scary stuffy. Passing patio people with gigantic pearls, champagne, and wedding hair has the power to make all commoners cringe. This kind of hair is reserved for bridesmaids or prom people. Anyone else is breaking the ultimate updo rule.
I had just started writing and wasn't used to dining out alone, much less in places with pretentious possibility. René's explanation regarding the perception people have of Mockingbird Bistro changed the way I'll ever prejudge a place again. Wealthy or poor, what matters is the attitude of the person taking care of you. People paying are just a puzzle piece, as the outcome is in the hands of the server.
René's heart shines brighter than any server I've encountered. He went on to proudly tell a story of being offered a summer spot at the prestigious Julliard School of Music in New York City. Taking care of his family became necessary, which forced him to put this dream on hold. As the years have passed, René continues to share his warmth and kindness behind the bar at Mockingbird.
I think of René while walking into fine dining restaurants from New York to LA. For me, his words were of wisdom. A conversation seeming so simple is something I take with me. Flip flops or fluffy hair, we are all worthy. His phenomenal service, attention to conversation, and care make Rene my favorite server in the city.